Catch your own Fish Fry

By: Mindy Simons-Assistant Director-Hayward Lakes Visitor & Convention Bureau

It’s Friday night in Wisconsin…what is the first thing that comes to mind?  A fish-fry of course!  For as long as I can remember, the Friday night Fish Fry has been as synonymous with Wisconsin as Brandy Old Fashions and cheese curds.  While there are countless options for Fish Frys in the Hayward area, sometimes it is fun to mix it up a bit and go catch your own bounty to fry up!

The Hayward Lakes area boasts an abundance of lakes, all of which have a nice variety of panfish including bluegills and crappies.  You don’t even need a boat to get out and catch some fish; there are plenty of shore-fishing locations, including two handicapped accessible fishing piers, one on Lake Hayward near the City beach, and the other at the DNR Boat Landing on the Chippewa Flowage on Highway CC North.

A simple bobber and some small live bait will do the trick.  Small leeches can be fabulous in the spring and early summer, but nightcrawlers produce all season.  Adults and kids alike can’t help but be excited when a bobber goes under, a sure sign to set the hook and let the fight begin!  In the spring it is best to focus on the inside weed lines in 2-3 feet of water.  As the water warms and brings on summer, move your focus to the outside weed lines or small open pockets in the weeds.  You will generally find the larger bluegills/panfish focused on weed cover between 5-15 feet in the summer and hard spots along weed edges will definitely produce action.  As you venture toward deeper water, a slip bobber or small drop shot work great on the deeper weed lines.  It is also fun to switch up to soft plastics (such as Berkley Gulp) and other panfish options from a host of brands, instead of or in addition to a live bait presentation. 

Hayward Bait & Bottle, as well as Bobber Down Bait & Tackle are two local shops that have a wealth of knowledge and are ready and willing to help!  Be sure to check the panfish regulations for the body of water you are fishing, and only keep enough for the meal you are working to prepare so there will be plenty to go around and keep the fish population healthy.  But most of all, remember to have fun!

For more information on the Hayward Lakes Area, visit